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Why I ask them, and why your web designer should ask them, too.

If you’re thinking about getting with a web designer to help you with your website project, then this is the post for you. Over the years, I’ve found that potential clients are sometimes not sure where to begin. Often, the right questions get us both pointed in the right direction.

1. What is it that you want the website to do for you?

Understanding what a website is for should really drive its design. If a client is looking to showcase their work, then having a portfolio will be pretty important. If an online store is what they’re looking for, then the design should showcase their products. Truly, every page throughout the website should reflect what it’s supposed to do.

2. Do you have a current website?

If you have a current website, it’s good for the designer to see what you currently have and how it has been used in the past. They should ask you some questions of their own. Now, if you don’t have a website, that’s fine, too. Be sure to let whomever you may be working with, that this is a first time for you. They should be able to help you with ideas for hosting, mapping out your website, and the type of site will work best for you.

3. Will you want to make updates and changes to your website yourself

If the web designer doesn’t ask this question, make sure you tell them if you want to make website updates yourself. Even if you’re not sure but may want to make site updates in the future, let them know. The important thing is for your website to be built in a way that works for you. You want them to build you a site that you can use and manage.

4. What’s your timeline for completion?

When I’ve asked this question, I’ve had some clients tell me they wanted their site live by the following week. Can this be done? Yes, but a couple of things factor into how. First and foremost, if the site is just 10 pages or so, a quick turnaround is completely doable. This is provided that all of the content or text, and images are readily available in a finished form. When it comes to content or text, it must be proofread and clearly indicated where it goes on each page. As for photos, if there are a lot of photos and they need to be resized or touched up, it will take time to do that, so consider that in the overall timeline. Take a look at a previous post on organizing content for help with this.

5. Who are, or who do you think, will be your primary site visitors?

It’s important think about who you want to attract, and keep, on your website and design with these visitors in mind. If you’re a local business and you want site visitors to walk in your front door, make it easy for folks to find you.  Your site should include photos of your business and staff along so that when folks walk in for the first time, they feel comfortable. Directions with a click of a button are always a good idea so potential customers can get to your location easily using their phone.

6. Do you have logo or business card?

The reason I have this in my list is because any web design should work with an existing logo for branding purposes. Making your website memorable, with a cohesive look and feel with any printed materials you have, goes a long way.

7. What other websites do you like and why?

I ask this question because it often gives me a good starting point to see what someone’s looking for in a website. It’s at this point that I also talk with them about features that might work well for them like

  • News Section or Blog
  • Photo Galleries or Portfolios
  • Contact Form
  • FAQ Page
  • Testimonials, Reviews or Case Studies

8. Do you have the content and images for your website ready?

If someone has their content ready, great. If not, that’s okay too; I just give hints on how to get the content ready starting with the sitemap and then talking about how to organize the content. To be honest, websites that take a long time to finish, take a long time because of incomplete content or pages. As crazy as it seems, I’ve had to wait sometimes a year or more to get everything I need to finish a website. Remember, you can always add to a website. So, having pages that are well put together and complete to start, and then adding more if needed later, often works best.

9. What do you want your online visitors to do while they’re on your website?

Do you want them to purchase products, connect with you, read your blog or even donate to your cause? Whatever it is that you want your site visitors to do, you need to make sure you’re pointing in that direction on every page and it’s clearly marked. The last thing you want is to lose someone because they had trouble navigating your website.

10. Do you have any social media accounts?

Incorporating social media accounts in websites is a great way to make the social media work harder. Sometimes we include feeds from social media right on websites so site visitors can have an interactive experience in a number of ways. Also, knowing what social media is out there lets me see if there is consistent branding across all of the platforms.

If you’re talking with a web designer, have this list handy and if they don’t ask you these questions, ask them about any or all of the above.

Again, I ask these questions because more than anything, I want to create websites that are built in a way that work best for my clients and their site visitors. Any web designer you work with should want the same for you, too.

Have questions about this article? Let me know.

If you’re thinking about digging in and starting a website, then it’s time to get your ducks in a row. Now’s the time to organize what’s going to go on the pages you mapped out for your site. Sometimes this can seem daunting, but it really doesn’t have to.

Get your ducks in a row | ginnyrogers.com

Web pages should have a good mix of content and images—with plenty of white space in between. Studies have shown that white space is important on web pages and makes content easier to read.

When thinking about putting together web pages, keep in mind that

  • It’s good to keep the content on each page to around 300 words. If you have more, that’s okay, too. Just break up the space so it’s easy to ready. Sometimes less can be more, so don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to create tons of content for each post or page. Just write what you need to get your core message across. If you have a lot of content, break it up into sections.
  • Make your content easy to read. Even if you work in a highly technical field, you should make what you’re saying easy to understand.
  • Use images to break up content. Just be sure to use images that are not too large. See Optimize images section below.
  • Read what you write and put your most import information toward the top of the page. It only takes a couple of seconds for someone to click off of your page. Make it easy for folks to find what they need to.

Organize Content

Organizing your content according to how you mapped out your site is the first step. I’ve known many folks who prefer to work on their content in Microsoft Word. This is a generally a good plan. It’s just important to be aware that Word adds formatting to the text. Formatted text can add a lot of unnecessary code when the content is copied to web pages which can really slow down the site’s page loading. If you’re using a text editor like Word, just save the file as a plain text file, if you can, and review the file before adding the content to a website to ensure that paragraph breaks are where you want them and consistent. If you’re using WordPress for your website, there’s a handy way to paste content as plain text with one click.

The “paste as text” icon in WordPress looks like this 

Mark your pages

It really helps to keep your content for the different web pages organized as separate files.  If it’s easier to have all of the content is in a single document, just make sure each web page is clearly marked with the web page title at the top larger and maybe even in caps. Also, give plenty of space between pages so that it’s clear where each page’s content begins and ends.  Many website pages include multiple sections, so mark different sections on a page clearly.

Think about titles and subtitles

It really helps to keep your content for the different web pages organized as separate files.  If it’s easier to have all of the content is in a single document, just make sure each web page is clearly marked with the web page title at the top larger and maybe even in caps. Also, give plenty of space between pages so that it’s clear where each page’s content begins and ends.  Many website pages include multiple sections, so mark different sections on a page clearly.

Optimize images

Be sure to do what you can to reduce the file size of images, without losing too much quality. Sometimes, this can be a fine line. Just remember that mobile devices access the web more than laptops or desktop computers, so your images can’t be too large or they’ll take too long to download and be viewable. If you’re a photographer and want to show the high quality of your photos, you may not want to optimize some of your images.

Don’t forget about forms

If your website will have contact forms, be sure to think through a list of the form’s fields along with the email address that will receive the form submissions. Also, it’s always a good idea to think about what kind of fields you want on the form. For example different types of fields are,

  • Fill-in text fields,
  • Text areas (field with multiple lines often used for comment sections),
  • Drop-down lists (specify if the user should be able to choose just one item from the drop-down list, or can choose multiple items at the same time),
  • Checkboxes or radio button. Checkboxes allow for multiple selections (like check all options that apply). Radio buttons are more for “yes or no” choices where only one or the other can be selected.

Also think through which fields will be required for the form submission.  Example of required fields are name, email address, subject, etc.

Contact information

Remember to include contact information on your website, especially if it’s a business site.

  • Contact Name
  • Organization
  • Complete address
  • Phone numbers, and
  • Email addresses.